Why Life Sciences Firms Need NEDs

torso of man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of stairs
ByHanover Team
Posting date: 23 March 2022

Non-executive directors (NEDs) can play a vital role in the effective leadership of a life sciences organisation.

Often providing a wealth of health research, investing or management experience, NEDs are an invaluable asset. As boards navigate new challenges, NEDs can provide tangible insight into real operational detail with a depth and breadth of executive, industry-specific experience.

In our current climate of crisis, risk management is essential. In an area that is so vital for ensuring quality of life and breakthrough treatments, the added value of NEDs in your life sciences firm can make all the difference.

What can a NED do for your organisation?

NEDs can act as mentors to young, comparatively inexperienced CEOs, often bringing 30-plus years of experience to both general management and strategic planning. This diversity in age is essential amongst board members and by leveraging their knowledge, you can boost your organisation, fast-tracking growth and gaining an objective perspective.

Non-executive directors are often well-connected in their particular industry. And in general, they tend to have excellent financial acumen, strong risk management skills and good people skills.

They can also bring specific experience to the table, which can prove pivotal in any of the life sciences fields. For example, I’ve placed a non-executive director from the oncology field with a start-up in the bio-pharma sector, and someone with a cardiac radiology background into the medtech sector. Their wealth of expertise has reaped rewards for their respective firms.

I also had the opportunity to work with a board in the field of biotechnology who were looking for a new non-executive director with specific expertise in marine biotechnology. The person I placed not only brought incredible knowledge, but also the type of experience that has helped the firm move the needle in terms of their market position and share.

To give you another example, in 2019, the NHS Health Research Authority appointed three new NEDs to their board - one was an immunologist, another a Director of Health & Life Sciences, and the third a previous board member for multiple organisations. It’s evident that each of these individuals had something of value to bring to the table.

How to become a NED in life sciences

I’ve previously spoken with many life sciences sector experts who have exited their roles within the biotech, pharma or medtech field to pursue a NED portfolio.

In order for this to happen, those existing experts must be adept in leadership, networking, commercial activity, communication, market risk and ideally have some previous board experience.

Some individuals have even undertaken specific training in order to meet the needs of desired boards. They can then choose to make their profile known amongst key decision makers, or be headhunted by an industry expert (like myself!).

Executive search: how Hanover can help

Hanover has extensive experience when it comes to recruiting to board roles in general, and we have an impressive portfolio of NEDs specific to the life sciences industry. If you’d like more information about any of the above, please contact usand let’s set up some time for a call.

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